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  • ISSN 2508-8297 (Print)
  • ISSN 2671-7123 (Online)
Monsters Created by Capitalism: An Anthropological Study of Internet Broadcasting Website AfreecaTV
Kim Soojin

Vol.4, pp.111 – 145, 2020


Abstract
This article aims to conduct an exploratory study of the concurrent dualities that operate on various levels in real-time internet broadcasts and accompanying typed comments from participants. AfreecaTV is a real-time internet broadcasting website with an unrivaled share of and scale in the Korean market. The site is often criticized by politicians and in public discourse as a hotbed of socio-pathological problems, a phenomenon linked to the fact that online activity remains a blind spot within the system. This study, by contrast, approaches AfreecaTV as a society existing in cyberspace. It is an attempt to grasp the internal logic of the relationships between AfreecaTV broadcasting jockeys and viewers, who describe themselves as “monsters” and make a habit of “problematic” speech and behavior. From a local perspective, the world of “monsters” operates according to highly social principles. This is shown by starballoons, the virtual currency given by viewers to BJs, and by the arguments that take place on the site. Here, we find a combination of trading relationships and gift-based relationships, reputation and speaking rights coupled to accumulated starballoons, and anti-authoritarian tendencies that keep these in check.
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